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In March 1864, travelling north along shores of Lake Albert, Sir Samuel Baker and Lady Florence Baker arrived near here in two long dug-out canoes propelled by local oarsmen. Their aim was to confirm that the Victoria Nile flowed into Lake Albert and that the Nile then flowed north out of Lake Albert on its long journey to Egypt. It took them 12 days to make the journey along the shoreline, stopping frequently to change oarsmen and to take on provisions.

They had many adventures on the way; a violent storm nearly sunk both canoes, they were attacked by crocodiles, saw a great herd of elephants bathing in the waters, and suffered from a shortage of food. Baker writes “After the tenth day from our departure from Vacovia ( Buhuka) the scenery increased in beauty. The lake had contracted to about thirty miles in width, and was decreasing rapidly northward; the trees upon the mountains upon the western shore could be distinguished. Continuing our voyage north, the western shore projected suddenly, and diminished the width of the lake to about twenty miles. It was no longer the great inland sea, with the clean pebbly beach that formed the shore, but vast banks of reeds growing upon floating vegetation prevented the canoes from landing. These banks were most peculiar, as they appeared to have been formed of decayed vegetation, from which the papyrus rushes took root; the thickness of the floating mass was about three feet, and so tough and firm that a man could walk upon it, merely sinking above his ankles in the soft ooze. Beneath this raft of vegetation was extremely deep water, and the shore for a width of about half a mile was entirely protected by this extraordinary formation. One day a tremendous gale of wind and heavy sea broke off large portions, and the wind acting upon the rushes like sails, carried floating islands of some acres about the lake to be deposited wherever they might chance to hitch.”

They had passed fishing villages all along the lake shore and almost certainly would have stopped near where the village of Wanseko is now. Gone are the floating masses of vegetation but the huge fish remain and still provide food for the villagers to this very day. From here the Bakers sailed on to the mouth of the Victoria Nile and the magnificent Murchison Falls.

The Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Historical Trail is supported by the following partners:

For further information contact:
Julian Monroe Fisher FRGS FI'00


copyright Julian Monroe Fisher 2013-2016